What makes a good slots game?

Whether you like to play in a brick-and-mortar casino, or prefer the convenience of playing online, there’s no denying the popularity of slots. From their humble beginnings in the late 1800s, to today and the number of technological advancements and impressive features available, slots continue to be a thriving business and just get better and better. But what makes a good slots game?

Graphics and themes

Like anything, the graphics on slot games were originally basic and let’s be honest, not the best. The immediate thoughts on a slot machine are the fruit symbols and BAR that often adorned those large machines in the pub or arcade games on the pier at the seaside. Similarly, the games were three-reel slot machines with minimal pay-outs.

But over time, games have developed to become more complicated with additional reels, contain better graphics and the symbols have developed too. With differing symbols, it allows developers to create games to suit any theme. A theme with a story or something a bit different or unique is fun – and if this is inspired by something that people have an interest in, then even better.

Many games now are based upon periods in history (Ancient Egyptians, or Romans for example), or cultures (Asian-themed or Nordic-themes slots); can be based on film franchises, big brands such as Marvel or DC; popular TV hits or even game shows. If you’re new to slots and see something you have a familiarity with, you’re likely to give it a go, especially if it’s something you like. The symbols in these games will be reflective of the theme, say for example in an Asian-themed slot, expect to see koi fish, dragons, Buddha, ornate pottery and oriental style letter symbols. It’s all relative.


The earliest slot machines offered one pay-line, that went across the central reels horizontally. These games can still be found today and are a great introduction to slots. However, most players find those too boring and not challenging enough – not that there’s skill involved. These days, the slots can have as many as 1,000 pay-lines – or more! The more reels the game has, the more pay-lines it can offer and the majority of slots games consist of five-reels.

Rather than simply going across horizontally, the pay-lines can go in any number of directions, including vertically, diagonally and zig-zag in various patterns; and will differ dependent on the game and number of reels. Most of the time, the pay-lines are numbered.

There are two kinds of pay-lines: fixed and variable and with the latter, you can choose which lines you want to play. Although playing all lines will be a bigger bet, there is a larger chance of the bet coming in.

Bonus features

If the game has good graphics and a theme, you’re halfway there – but players like variety and more than just the main game. Bonus features are of course going to entice the player to part with their money. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of getting a surprise when you spin the reels – whether it’s a number of free spins, a multiplier added to your winnings, or a side game to win big.

So, they may not count specifically as bonus features, but you can’t have a good slots game without wild and scatter symbols, as these increase your chances of success. Wilds can substitute symbols on the reels to make new (and hopefully winning) combinations; while scatter icons are the ones that trigger the bonus features.

Progressive jackpots

It’s obviously all about the wonga, but what’s better than one-pay out? Multiple pay-outs, of course! Progressive jackpot slots are increasingly popular because as well as the usual pay-outs, there’s a big fat sum of money that’s constantly increasing and there to be won.

So how do they work? Well each time a player puts money on a game, a percentage of their bet goes into the pot. It increases with every play until it’s won and then it starts again.

There are multiple kinds of progressive jackpots and the most common is known as a local progressive. This is a series of games on the same website that have the same jackpots attributed to them. So, when any of the featured games is played, the jackpot increases. By contrast, standalone progressives are just based on a single game on a single website – and thus, won’t increase as frequently.